President Donald Trump announced that he would not be restarting the family separation policy a the southern border, despite rumors that he planned to resume the practice of detaining children separately from their parents.
During a meeting with the press Tuesday afternoon, President Trump discussed his efforts to curb illegal immigration into the U.S. as detention centers continue to reach capacity, forcing Border Patrol agents to release migrants into the country.
Trump pointed the finger at Congress and the courts as to the reason he’s struggling address the crisis at the border. Recently, a Ninth Circuit judge blocked Trump from trying to force asylum seekers to stay in Mexico. In Congress, House Democrats refuse to meet Trump on any of his immigration policy requests, putting potential legislation at a standstill.
He explained that his job would be “so much easier” if Democrats would work with him on border security.
“We have bad laws. We have a judge that just ruled incredibly that he doesn’t want people staying in Mexico — figure that one out. Nobody can believe these decisions we’re getting from the Ninth Circuit. It’s a disgrace. So we’re fighting the bad laws, the bad things — the bad things that are coming out of Congress. We have a Democrat Congress that’s obstructing. You want to talk about obstruction? The greatest obstruction anyone’s ever seen. All they have to do is spend 20 minutes and they can fix this whole problem. We have the worst laws of any country anywhere in the world.”
Trump pointed to catch-and-release asylum laws that allow migrants to be released into the United States while they await their asylum hearing as one example of a law that must be changed by Congress.
“We’re bucking a court system that never ever rules for us and we’re bucking really bad things with Congress, with the Democrats in Congress not willing to act,” said Trump later adding, “We’re stopping [the migrants] and if we don’t stop them, ICE is throwing them the hell out. We’re getting them out, but our job could be so much easier.”
Trump noted that, while he intends to be strict about immigration policy, he wouldn’t be bringing back family separation policies, also noting that many of those policies were in place prior to his start in the Oval Office. The president noted that viral photos of migrant children sleeping behind chain-linked fencing were taken during while former President Barack Obama was in office.
“President Obama separated the children. Those cages that were shown, I think they were very inappropriate. They were built by President Obama’s administration, not by Trump. President Obama had child separation, take a look. The press knows it. You know it. We all know it. I’m the one who stopped it.”
The family separation policy actually started as a court ruling in 1997, prior to Obama’s presidency. In Flores v. Reno, a judge ruled that children should not be kept in adult detention centers when they are arrested at the border, meaning that detained families could be separated while they are detained.
This policy was in place during the Obama administration, though it was not enforced as strictly as it was under the early days of the Trump administration.
Despite claiming that he’s “not looking to” continue the policy, Trump did claim that it was a deterrent for keeping families from migrating to the U.S.
“Once you don’t have [family separation] that’s why you see many more people coming. They’re coming like it’s a picknick because let’s go to Disneyland,” said Trump.